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Kristin Marquet

Episode 60: Whiteboard System: What is it & How it Can Organize Your Agency, with Kristin Marquet

Kristin is the founder and managing director of Creative Development Agency (formerly award-winning firm, Marquet Media). She oversees the day-to-day operations of the agency as well as directs all client accounts and projects. With a strong eye for creating memorable brands and a diverse range of knowledge, Kristin provides strategic counsel to clients interested in developing successful internal and external communication programs across all media platforms.

Whiteboard System | What is it & How it Can Organize Your Agency

Kristin has forged successful partnerships with celebrity fashion designer and correspondent NV Nick Verreos; prestige hair care brand Briogeo; luxury skincare brand BubblePopBeauty.com; and many more. She has generated media placements in Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, Seventeen, Glamour, and ELLE magazines, Refinery29.com, and countless other outlets.

Passionate about learning, Kristin has attended MIT, Boston University, and New York University, and holds degrees in Literature and Marketing/PR. In 2015, she authored of the book, Squash the competition and Dominate your marketplace: 55 Easy Tips to Generate Big Publicity for Your Startup or Small Business.

Most recently, she joined the Young Entrepreneur Council, and is also a contributor to Forbes.com, Inc.com, HuffingtonPost.com, Entrepreneur.com, and NYDailyNews.com

As someone who loves everything about the startup world, Kristin launched the design studio FemFounder.co to help emerging entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Kristin’s team of just 5 people uses systems and processes get a LOT of work done for their 31 clients
  • Kristin’s whiteboard system of physically writing everything that she and her team needs to accomplish in schedules, workflows, checklists, etc. on paper and whiteboards
  • The meeting Kristin’s team has on every Friday to go over what’s been accomplished and what needs to be a priority in the days and weeks ahead
  • Why digital project management systems like Trello and Asana didn’t work for Kristin
  • What goes on each of the six whiteboards (and why Kristin duplicates what’s on her whiteboards at work on her whiteboards at home)
  • How Kristin takes what’s on the whiteboards with her — without ever entering that data into her computer
  • The importance of detailing every single step to make sure nothing slips through the cracks
  • Kristin’s color coding on her whiteboards using black (pending), red (urgent), and blue (new) markers
  • Creative Development Agency’s upcoming proprietary algorithm as part of their analytics department
  • Experimenting to find the system that works best for you

Ways to contact Kristin:

Podcast eBooks:

The Power of Two

Episodes 1, 2 and 3 collide to bring you summary of lessons learned and systems created around Vision and Key Initiatives that help drive success to companies and businesses.

The Transition to Automation

In Episode 25, Vera talks with Heidi Rasmussen, CEO and Co-Founder of one of Inc 5000’s fastest growing companies in America – freshbenies. This eBook highlights part of the conversation to bring out the best lesson in automation and on-boarding for startups.

Using IT Strategically

In Episode 29, Vera talks with Tom Grooms, Vice President, Information Technology, and Chief Information Officer for CF Industries. This eBook is your guide for seeing IT as more than just a faster way to do your accounting.

The ZFactor Methodology

In Episode 35, Vera talks with Cindy Goldsberry, founder and partner of ZFactor Group. This eBook shows you how to take your business from vendor to value creator.

Transcript:

Speaker 1: Welcome to System Execution, the strategy and system behind today’s successful companies. Systems can make or break your company. But here we’ll solve your physical, technological and psychological systems issues by connecting you with experts that have succeeded in overcoming those challenges in their business, and providing you the guidelines and tools you need to implement those same strategies for immediate results. Now here’s your host, Vera Fischer.

Vera Fischer: Today’s episode is sponsored by 97 Degrees West, the brand marketing agency located in Austin, Texas. 97 Degrees West serves regional and national companies in the healthcare, finance, energy and manufacturing industries. 97 Degrees West believes that an integrated approach to marketing, that involves traditional and digital strategies, that fit your customer’s buying journey yields the greatest impact on your bottom line. Go to www.97dwest.com to learn more.

Welcome to System Execution, a podcast devoted to using processes and systems to drive to a better outcome for your business. I’m Vera Fischer, your host. All businesses, no matter the size relies on systems. Some of these are physical systems, such as a distribution center or a factory. Some are technological, this could be your CRM, marketing or project management software, while others are psychological systems such as checklists and org charts. Many of these systems will change and overlap in your business. Today’s guest Kristin Marquet, is the founder and managing director of the Creative Development Agency. Now this agency has niched itself in the eco lifestyle, beauty and lifestyle brands. So Kristin oversees the day to day operations of the agency and she directs all of the client accounts and projects. She has a strong eye for creating memorable brands and a diverse range of knowledge. Kristin provides strategic counsel to clients interested in developing successful internal and external communication programs across all media platforms. Kristin has attended MIT, Boston University and New York University and holds a degree in literature and marketing PR. In 2015, she authored the book ‘Squash Your Competition and Dominate Your Marketplace 55 Easy Tips to Generate Big Publicity for Your Startup or Small Business’. Most recently, she joined the Young Entrepreneur Council and is also a contributor to forbes.com, ink.com, Huffington Post, entrepreneur.com and the New York Daily News. Welcome to System Execution, Kristin.

Kristin Marquet: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so honored to be here.

More on Kristin’s Background

Vera Fischer: Well Kristin, before you share your specific process around manual project management whiteboard system, would you tell us more about yourself and your experience?

Kristin Marquet: Sure. Absolutely. So I have owned Creative Development Agency, now going on for 10 years. Before that, I was the head of corporate communications for a large management consulting firm based here in New York. But unfortunately during the financial crisis, my whole office shut down and at that point I had to make the decision whether to get a job or start a business, and I was very fortunate to have had the success that I’ve had, especially during like I said that really bad financial time. And over the last 10 years or so, we have grown from a small two person shop to a five person shop, and we’ve really niched down like you had mentioned in the intro, for eco friendly, sustainable beauty and lifestyle brands and right now we have about 31 clients on our roster and they’re like family and I’m very fortunate to be in the position I’m in.

Vera Fischer: Well Kristin, I do know that just from the experience of owning my own agency that being niched is something that is absolutely … something you have to do in order to succeed in the industry and have longevity to your business. But I find that a lot of folks really don’t understand the volume of work that a five person team can actually get through that company. So could … Before we start on this whiteboard system, I’d really like to hear just a little bit more about the volume of work and little bit about that complexity.

Kristin Marquet: Sure. Absolutely. So like I said, we have 31 active clients right now and we just don’t specialize in PR. We also do some email marketing, we do analytics consulting, we do social media marketing and then we have … we do a little bit of design for our very good clients if they want a new website, whether it’s based on Shopify or Squarespace. But because each one of these client campaigns contains so many different aspects, we have about 300 project elements going at any given time. So being organized and really focused and optimizing the workflow is critical to being successful and making sure that we can meet all of our client deadlines, and our client benchmarks. If we were just operating in a vacuum and just kind of having things done haphazardly, there would be no way that we’d be able to get the results that we can for our clients.

Whiteboard System

Vera Fischer: Well that’s awesome Kristin, ’cause that’s a great segue into the system that you’re gonna talk to us about. So with that said, we had talked a little bit earlier and you had mentioned that you are very much a visual person and also very much a manual person when it comes to keeping yourself organized. So starting there, why don’t you introduce us to your whiteboard system?

Kristin Marquet: Yeah. Absolutely. So like you said, I’m very much a visual person and a linear thinker. So I need to see things laid out in front of me on a piece of paper or on a chalkboard or a whiteboard, so I can plot what the workflow is gonna be like. And my office is actually covered in whiteboards with schedules and checklists and workflows, just so like I said, I can see what each step needs to be done and I actually share that system with my team in person. And to go over all of the different project elements for our clients, we have weekly meetings on Friday afternoons so that we can review everything that’s been done for that week, all of the things that need to be done and then all of the items that are coming up for the next week and two, three weeks in the future. But like I said, just having things written down manually is the way that I’m able to get everything accomplished.

Vera Fischer: So Kristin, whenever … at some point you must have learned that okay, with the big craze about digital project management systems, that somehow just didn’t work for you. So how … Did you try those or did you get through couple of them and say, “Okay. I can’t do this. I really have to go back to my whiteboard.”?

Kristin Marquet: I did and I’ve used … Yeah, I’ve used Trello in the past and I’ve Asana, and Asana is fine for kind of just getting a higher overview of what my day is gonna look like. But when I was using those digital platforms, there would be steps that I would miss because I would be scrolling too quickly or my brain just didn’t pick up on something. Whereas when I see something written down, it gets ingrained in my mind and I’m able to make sure that I can get every single task that I have written down accomplished in a timely manner. So I think that for me, yeah, it’s more of just having something written down in front of me and being able to plot each different component of the project that needs to get done. Did that make sense?

Vera Fischer: Absolutely. So without the luxury of visuals in a podcast setting, I’d really like it if you would describe for our listeners how many whiteboards and what is on each whiteboard? So let’s just say that you’ve signed a new client and let’s go ahead and just kind of briefly walk us through what that looks like from your whiteboard.

Kristin Marquet: Sure. Okay. Well overall, I have six whiteboards and I actually have six in my physical office here in New York City, and then I have six or seven in my home office. So whatever I have written in my New York City office, I actually have written in my home office. But it essentially breaks down what the client the name is, all of the functions that need to be completed with all of the different deadlines and say for instance if I have … if I signed a client for a new PR campaign, the client’s name, I’ll have the … a larger PR strategy written down underneath the client’s name. All of the press materials that need to be developed and then all the pitching angles along with all the different publications I’m gonna be pitching or the team’s gonna be pitching over the course of that campaign. So it gets it very granular and I have to actually write very small so I can fit everything on the board, but it works for me and I’ve had my assistant come into my office … especially when she first started. She’s like, “This is like a madman. I mean you operate like a madwoman. I don’t understand how you can stay organized.”, but it just works for me. So like I said, I have everything listed out, from the first day of their campaign to their end date of their campaign.

Vera Fischer: And Kristin, whenever you are writing all of that out, is there a … do you ever transcribe any of that onto your laptop or your desktop, or does it really stay on that whiteboard?

Kristin Marquet: It stays on the whiteboard and I will take a picture of it with my phone or my iPad, and then I will have those notes. I’ll have my assistant write it down in my planner, so I actually have a physical copy of it with me at all times as well, just in case I’m traveling from meeting to meeting, or if I need to reference something on my … on the train ride to work, or something. But yeah, I have a couple different copies handwritten of everything that needs to be done kinda day to day.

Whiteboard System: Preventing Mistakes

Vera Fischer: So how do you prevent different mistakes happening from this manual whiteboard system? ‘Cause I can almost hear some listeners out there that are just cringing, that’s just … How do you know that something’s not being … not slipping through the cracks?

Kristin Marquet: Well, like I said for me, I illustrate every single point that needs to be done for each client campaign. Going back to what I said earlier, when I used Asana and Trello, there would be times where I would miss one step or I would miss a small task because I was scrolling too quickly through my to do list. And digitally, it just seems like a task to pull out my phone or to pull up some type of marketing automation or marketing system on my computer, whereas having it written out physically, it just seems much more accessible to me. Does that make sense?

Vera Fischer: Oh, it absolutely does. It absolutely does. So how did you know that the whiteboards were gonna be the key to your success in this organization? ‘Cause you did mention that you had used Trello and Asana and different ones. How did you finally settle on the whiteboards?

Kristin Marquet: Well ever since I was in high school, I always … I mean whether it was for exams or if I had a training schedule for cross country or something, it was always … I always had things written out on a piece of paper or a chalkboard or a whiteboard and I think that this habit, I’ve just kind of carried through into my adult life. When I was in college and grad school, the same thing and it’s just been something that has been really effective for me.

Vera Fischer: And Kristin, do you use different colors?

Kristin Marquet: I use black, red and blue.

Vera Fischer: Okay. What do they mean?

Kristin Marquet: Okay. Black is kind of pending. Red is urgent and blue is anything new that has to be done and that’s how I color code things and it works.

 

Whiteboard System: Communication With Team Members

Vera Fischer: And do you have your other team members use the same whiteboard system?

Kristin Marquet: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean if they were using a different system to communicate with me, things would not get done, things would get completely disorganized and chaotic. They may have other systems for their … for themselves to follow, but when they’re dealing with me, absolutely. This whiteboard system, this is how we operate.

Vera Fischer: And are you able to quickly walk into one of your team member’s offices and be able to know exactly what they’re working on without even having to ask them?

Kristin Marquet: For the most part. There are times where they may not have updated their system or their status, but yeah, for the most part my employees know how type A I am and how anal I could be at times. So as soon as something gets … Say my assistant gets something done, she will shoot me an email and let me know. She’ll update it on her end, so I can update it on my end, or she’ll even walk into my office and update it on my end so I don’t have to do it, which is nice.

Vera Fischer: That is nice. And how much time do you spend writing on those boards?

Kristin Marquet: Probably like 10, 15 minutes a day.

Vera Fischer: Oh, that’s not bad.

Kristin Marquet: I mean it’s … no.

Vera Fischer: I thought you were gonna say two hours.

Kristin Marquet: No, no, no. There’s only one of me, right?

Vera Fischer: Right.

Kristin Marquet: I actually have a couple other businesses outside of just CDA. So I wouldn’t be able to get everything done that I can get done just … if I was spending two hours a day updating my whiteboards.

Kristin’s Next Challenge for the Creative Development Agency

Vera Fischer: Right. Oh, my gosh. All right. So you have segued your agency into that awesome niche market of sustainable and ecologically friendly beauty products, et cetera. So what’s your next challenge for the Creative Development Agency?

Kristin Marquet: That’s a great question. So we are actually gonna be expanding our analytics program. I am actually in the process of working on a proprietary algorithm that hopefully, one day I’ll be able to license out. But we’re gonna be beta testing it this summer with our clients and then we’re gonna be rolling it out on a … I guess you could say on a mass level during Q4. And I’m actually going to be taking a new course at MIT, that really kind of like sums up the whole big data and analytics proprietary program that I’m working on. So it’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be interesting. There’s a lot of work there, but I’m really excited about offering this new service because so many businesses, they need analytics help and they need help interpreting their data so that they can optimize their sales cycles, increase conversions and things of that nature.

Vera Fischer: Well you know what I love about this whiteboard system Kristin, is that you’ve really shown our listeners that really figuring out what works for you on … and the way that your brain operates so that you can actually get work done and embracing that, doesn’t mean that you have foregone all of the digital out there. I mean look at you, you’re building out proprietary analytics. So that’s … I love that mix.

Kristin Marquet: Thanks. Yeah, it’s definitely a nice hybrid. You get the more traditional kind of manual record keeping and yeah, and then you kinda tie into the larger analytics and marketing intelligence business analytics kinda flow of things. So yeah, it’s definitely a nice hybrid but in terms of like you said, the system that works for me, just keeping everything manual, it really helps clarify exactly what needs to be done on our end. And I understand that that system’s probably not gonna work for most people and I’ve had clients say, “Oh my goodness. I can’t believe that you actually think like this. I can’t believe you can’t keep everything digital.” And when I explain it to them and I show them the workflow, they’re like, “Oh, makes sense.”

 

Kristin’s Final Thoughts and How to Get in Touch

Vera Fischer: All right Kristin, before we go, let’s close out today’s discussion with any final advice you wanna share and then tell us the best way we can connect with you.

Kristin Marquet: Yeah. Absolutely. So just … You need a system. You need to be organized, especially as you launch a new company or you scale an existing one. Don’t be afraid to try the manual system that we discussed. If it doesn’t work for you, you’ll find an alternative, whether it’s Trello, Asana or just a Google Doc, and the best way for listeners to get in touch with me, would be visiting creativedevelopmentagency.com.

Vera Fischer: Well System Execution fans, no matter how many notes you took or how often you re-listen to this episode, the key is every successful business uses systems to drive to a better outcome. Kristin, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and insight with our listeners today.

Kristin Marquet: Thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun.

Speaker 1: We hope you found this episode of System Execution enlightening. For free examples, case studies, eBooks and more, be sure to visit systemexecution.com/resources. Contribute to the conversation by reaching out to Vera directly on email at vera@systemexecution.com. Until our next episode, thank you for the privilege of your time.

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